Free and cheap family fun: free Slurpees, cool bobbleheads and a cheap date night
Usually the dog days of summer are pretty relaxing with not much going on. But this weekend is packed. From baseball to skateboarding and even a bit of synchronized swimming, you can get your free and cheap sports fix with the kids. Or you and the kids can check out the spiders or you can do a date night. The possibilities are endless.
Date night alert! A $10 wristband gets you wine food and live classic rock at the Dunedin Wine and Art Walk at Pioneer Park (Main Street and Douglas Avenue) on Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The stroll is hosted by more than 30 local merchants and galleries.
Get the creeps, in a good way at a free Spider Prowl. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at Chinsegut Nature Center, 23212 Lake Lindsay Road (CR 476) in Brooksville is hosting the informative spider talk followed by a night walk to look for native spiders on Friday starting at 8 p.m. Bring a flashlight and bug repellant. For more details, phone: (352) 754-6722
Why not give the kids a little brain freeze on Saturday? It's free Slurpees on Saturday, July 11 -- or 7/11 -- at 7-Eleven convenience stores. Of course it's just a 7.11 ounce cup of the tasty concoction -- mango's a fave -- but what the heck, that's still a good deal. And with a store on every corner, your kids can get plenty sugared up before you take them home.
Tropicana Field is going to be pretty busy this weekend. First up the Tampa Bay Rays are hosting a beginning at 9 a.m. on the field. It’s part of the fatherhood program, All Pro Dad, started by former coach and now NBC football analyst Tony Dungy 12 years ago. The 2 1/2-hour event will include games for kids, bonding activities for dads and their children and advice for dads from Rays players, Gabe Gross and Lance Cormier. It’s $15 for one dad and up to four kids. For information, go to the All Pro Dad Web site or call (813) 222-8300. Later Saturday, get your game on when the light-and-sunny retro rockers Smash Mouth will be giving a free show after the Rays play the Oakland A's on Saturday. Game time is 6:08 p.m. The concert is free with game admission. Tickets are $13 and at Ticketmaster or call toll-free 1-888-326-729. They'll do their hits Walking on the Sun, All Star and I'm A Believer. And then on Sunday during Family Fun Day, the first 10,000 kids ages 14 and under who attend the 1:38 p.m. game will get a Carl Crawford bobblehead. It's fitting that just a few days before the All-Star Game, all-star Crawford gets the bobblehead treatment. Tropicana Field is at 1 Stadium Drive, St. Petersburg.
From baseball to hockey: Get ready for hockey season at the free Tampa Bay Lightning Fan Fest by meeting the 2009 top draft selections (including Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman) and watch a scrimmage between the prospects. There also will be games on the plaza at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive in Tampa. It starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. If you can’t make the fan fest, the team will open up the ice for a free Beat the Heat open skate from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Forum. You have to bring your own skates, though. See the team's Web site for details.
If anyone asks who is in charge at MOSI, the right answer might very well be the kids Saturday when the museum hosts the Kid's in Charge Birthday Party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The celebration will be marked by the grand opening of Animation, an exhibit that explores cartoons from concept to finished product. Plus there will be giveaways, face painting, balloon artists, and cake and sweets from local restaurants. The party is free with admission to the museum at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Tickets are $20.95 adults (13-59), $16.95 child (2-12), and $18.95 seniors (60+). Member discounts available. Animation is an extra $3 and it also gets you into the IMAX cartoon show. For more info, call (813) 987-6000.
It's too early to even think about this but if you are of a mind to celebrate Christmas in July, then the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks are the place to be. The event features breakfast with Santa, a parade of Santas, kids workshops, games, prizes, Christmas vendors, live entertainment, caroling and a Santa look-a-like contest. Enjoy the holiday merriment at 8 a.m. Saturday at the docks, 20 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs. Mostly free but breakfast with Santa is $10. Call (727) 389-1644 for details.
Attention all comic book fans, the Tampa Comic Book Convention will be in Largo on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Minnreg Building, 6340 126th Ave. There will be 85 tables of comics, videos, toys, action figures, anime, Star Wars memorabilia, artwork, trading cards and more. Dress as your favorite comic book hero or sci-fi legend for a chance in the costume contest. Tickets are $5 and ages 12 and younger are free. Call (727) 522-9032 for more information.
Get out your skateboards for Skatepark Free Day on Saturday. There also will be a Krux Kickflip Challenge as the Skatepark of Tampa hosts a day of free skateboarding and lessons on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be demonstrations by Westside Skate Shop (1 p.m.) and the Krux Kickflip Challenge is at 3 p.m. Free food and drinks provided starting at 11:30 a.m. Raffles benefit the Children’s Cancer Center. The skatepark is at 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. Call (813) 621-6793 for more details.
We know you're thinking of Martin Short in the pool with nose plugs when you think of synchro, but this is a chance to see the real deal in a free show by the U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Team. The demonstration combines music, dance and aquatic athleticism in choreographed routines. Afterward there will be an autograph session with team members. It starts at 10:45 a.m. Saturday at Largo’s Southwest Pool, 13120 Vonn Road. Call (727) 518-3126 for information.
Phew! We're tired just thinking about all of this. But it will be lots of fun. See you out there.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson
[Photos: Spider, Times files; Carl Crawford bobblehead, Tampa Bay Rays Web site; Santa, photos.com]